This article will provide guidance on the Code of Civil Procedure in Portugal.  The primary source of law in Portugal is the country's codified statutes. Judges in Portugal are limited to interpreting and applying existing legislation. When it comes to understanding and applying the law, jurisprudence is only supplementary since, in Portugal, there is no concept of precedential law. Click Here for information on the Code of Civil Procedure in Portugal.

Some specialized regimes and courts hear cases involving the exercise of governmental authority, commercial and corporate litigation, employment disputes, and marine law. Moreover, procedural law allows for fast-track processes for specialized applications, and there are special regimes for specific claims within the scope of civil actions, such as injunctions and enforcement. Click here for How the Hague Convention Simplifies International Process Service.

A private process service agency like Undisputed Legal in Portugal can be a valuable resource for individuals and businesses seeking to initiate legal proceedings and serve papers in Portugal. Our professional process servers can help navigate the complexities of the Portuguese legal system and ensure that all your requirements for initiating proceedings and serving papers are met. We will ensure that your documents comply with the originating and receiving state requirements to minimize the likelihood of being struck down.  Click Here for Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers!

Code of Civil Procedure in Portugal - BACKGROUND

The Supreme Court (Supremo Tribunal de Justiça) in Lisbon is the highest in Portugal, followed by the Courts of Appeal (tribunais da relaço) and the District Courts (tribunais de comarca), each of which have different jurisdictional boundaries and levels of authority in civil matters. The Supreme Court has nationwide jurisdiction, although lower courts of appeal have only the authority of their judicial districts. There is also a Court of Audit (Tribunal de Contas) that examines government expenditures and a Constitutional Court (Tribunal Constitucional) that ensures Portugal's adherence to the rule of law. Click here for information on How To Identify A Good Process Service Agency.

Peace courts (Julgados de Paz) are specialized conflict resolution tribunals with unique structures and procedures, having the power to rule on first cases involving civil law issues up to an amount in dispute of 15,000 Euros using a streamlined process. Click here for information on How Rush Process Service Can Expedite Your Case.

Courts may be broken down into specialized categories, such as those dealing with criminal, family, and juvenile cases, business, shipping, enforcement matters, and labor disputes. There is a three-tiered system of administrative courts in Portugal with the lower administrative and fiscal courts, the central higher administrative courts (one each in the north and south), and the Supreme Administrative Court (Supremo Tribunal Administrativo), the latter of which has statewide jurisdiction. Click here for information on How Service of Process Ensures A Solid Foundation.

The Portuguese judicial system is divided into judicial bodies that hear cases for the first time (district courts), intermediate appellate bodies, and the Supreme Court. The Portuguese Constitution also has clauses addressing [A.] the Constitutional Court, which is in charge of ensuring that the rule of law is upheld in Portugal; [B.] the Audit Court, which examines whether or not government spending is legal; [C.] the Arbitration Courts; [D.] the Justice of the Peace Courts, which have jurisdiction over cases with a value of less than €15,000; and [E.] the Conflict Courts.


Litigation may be filed at any time in Portugal without any required pre-filing procedures. No mandatory procedures, standards of behavior, or other qualifications must be completed before filing a lawsuit in Portugal. In Portugal, the pre-action procedure is a preliminary stage that parties must follow before initiating a civil lawsuit. The purpose of this procedure is to encourage parties to settle their dispute amicably and avoid unnecessary litigation.

The action begins with the claimant sending a letter to the defendant, informing them of their intention to start legal proceedings. This letter must include a description of the facts of the case, the legal basis for the claim, and the proposed solution or compensation sought. The claimant must also invite the defendant to negotiate to resolve the dispute.

Upon receiving the claimant's letter, the defendant has thirty days to respond. They can either accept the claimant's proposal, make a counter-proposal, or reject the claim entirely. If the defendant fails to respond within the prescribed timeframe, they are assumed to have rejected the claim.

If the parties reach an agreement during the pre-action procedure, they must formalize it in writing and sign it. The agreement is then submitted to the court for approval. If the court approves the deal, it becomes legally binding. If the parties cannot settle their dispute during the pre-action procedure, the claimant may initiate legal proceedings by filing a claim in court. However, the court may refuse to hear the case if it determines that the parties did not make a good-faith effort to settle their dispute during the pre-action procedure.

One of the key ways in which Undisputed Legal can assist your legal journey is to ensure that your documents comply with the standards necessary for acceptance in Portugal. This can include preparing and translating legal documents, ensuring they are filed in the appropriate court or administrative body, and complying with local legal requirements. This can be a complex and time-consuming process, and the assistance of our experienced process servers can be invaluable in ensuring that all necessary steps are taken to initiate legal proceedings.


A claim is initiated by filing a written first claim with the appropriate court, often using an online e-justice system (Citius). To file a lawsuit by Article 552 of the Code of Civil Procedure in Portugal, it is necessary to provide the name of the court where the case is being heard and incorporate a complete and accurate description of the parties involved, including their full names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. It is imperative to provide the type of procedural action required. It is necessary to explain the nature of the dispute, the grounds for taking legal action, the reason for the request, and the claim amount. A first claim must be accompanied by any applicable evidence papers and proof of payment of the court fee (or proof of exemption from payment.).

Online claim filing is the first step in civil and commercial proceedings. It is necessary to name the involved parties, summarize the relevant facts, attach relevant documents, and ask for more evidence, like witness testimony. In Portugal, pre-trial disclosure is not permitted; one party may demand another to submit documents or evidence.

The claimant must then draft the claim. This legal document sets out the facts of the case, the legal arguments supporting the claim, and the relief or compensation sought. The claim must be clear, concise, and supported by relevant evidence before being submitted to the court. This can be done in person or by mail. The claim must be accompanied by the appropriate court fees, which depend on the claim's value.

The claimant must provide the defendant with a copy of the claim and any supporting documents. This can be done by mail or in person. The defendant then has a certain amount of time to respond to the claim. According to the Code of Civil Procedure in Portugal, the process of service can be carried out in various ways, including by registered mail, hand delivery, or publication. The method will depend on the case's circumstances and the defendant's location. If the defendant is located in Portugal, the service of process must be carried out by a court bailiff or authorized person who will deliver the documents by hand. 

After service is done, the court will schedule a hearing. The claimant and the defendant must attend the hearing and present their arguments and evidence. The hearing may involve witness testimony and the examination of documentary evidence.

Initiating a claim in Portugal can be a complex and challenging process. Finding the right process server to ensure the claim is appropriately drafted and filed to maximize the chances of a successful outcome is important. The legal system in Portugal is based on civil law principles, which emphasize the importance of legal certainty, fairness, and access to justice.


The Convention for the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters of 15 November 1965 and the Council Regulation (EC) 1393/2007 on the service in Member States of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters are primary statutes that govern the enforcement of judgments in Portugal. 

Under Articles 85–87 of the Code of Civil Procedure in Portugal, with the appropriate modifications, foreign decisions may be enforced in Portugal only after they have been reviewed and confirmed by the court of appeal. According to the Code of Civil Procedure in Portugal, regardless of the parties' nationality, a ruling on private rights made by a foreign court will not be valid in Portugal until it has been reviewed and affirmed. 

In line with the Rome I Regulation (593/2008), local courts will typically uphold a contractual choice of law. However, the burden of proof for the existence and substance of foreign law is on the party making a claim. Despite the same, the court has an independent duty to investigate the matter. If the specifics of foreign law cannot be ascertained, the court must make a ruling by Portuguese law.

Process Service IN PORTUGAL

EU Regulation (EC) No. 1393/2007 on Service is the regulation for serving papers when the foreign court is situated inside the European Union. The Service Regulation streamlines the process through which sending and receiving agencies are set up in each member state. The  Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Cases, 1965 (Hague Service Convention) is the primary source of regulation for international service of papers. When a judicial or extrajudicial document has to be conveyed from one State Party to another for service in the latter, the Hague Service Convention specifies the transmission routes to be employed.

Service of foreign proceedings must be accomplished by the rules and procedures of the requesting state when the foreign court is not in the EU or where the Hague Service Convention does not apply. However, the mode of service must be acceptable under Portuguese legislation. 

The International Judicial Cooperation Unit of the Directorate-General for the Administration of Justice is the Central Authority for disseminating relevant information to the transmitting agencies and finding workable solutions to any problems that may occur during the transmission of papers to be served. The appropriate international judicial cooperation agreement specifies the required transmission methods, language, charges, and forms to deliver documents. This can get overwhelming, which is where Undisputed Legal can help coordinate with the Central Authority to ensure that your documents are safe to the best of our ability. 

It is imperative to ensure your request satisfies all of Portugal's stated conditions before submitting it. The document to be provided, including its summary and any attachments, must be translated into Portuguese. No fees are assessed when a court clerk personally serves a party. If the court decides to use the mail, it will be liable for all associated expenses without any chance of a refund. 

The European Union's Regulation (EC) No. 1393/2007 on serving judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial disputes within the Member States. This Regulation aims to provide a rapid, secure, and standardized system for transmitting judicial and extrajudicial documents relating to civil or commercial disputes between parties in different European Union (EU) countries. In most cases, courts in one Member State will not require payment of fees or other expenses for receiving legal papers from another Member State—costs associated with personal service by a court officer or enforcement agency.

We realize that serving legal papers overseas is a nerve-wracking process. Consequently, we ensure that you are always kept in the loop. Our professional, Undisputed Legal process servers will maintain accurate records of all service attempts and outcomes. This may include detailed reports on the methods used, copies of translations, and any other relevant information. These records will demonstrate compliance with local and international legal requirements and provide evidence in court if necessary. 


Documents can be faxed at (800) 296-0115, emailed to, or uploaded on our website. We do require prepayment and accept all major credit and debit cards. Once payment is processed, your sales receipt is immediately emailed for your records.

Drop-offs must call and make an appointment first to be added to building security to permit access to our office. Documents for service must be in a sealed envelope with payment in the form of a money order or attorney check (WE DO NOT ACCEPT CASH) payable to UNDISPUTED LEGAL INC. Our receptionist will receive all the documents.


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New York: (212) 203-8001 – 590 Madison Avenue, 21st Floor, New York, New York 10022
Brooklyn: (347) 983-5436 – 300 Cadman Plaza West, 12th Floor, Brooklyn, New York 11201
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Washington DC: (202) 655-4450 - 1101 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Suite 300, Washington DC 20004


Pick up the phone and call Toll Free (800) 774-6922, or click the service you want to purchase. Our dedicated team of professionals is ready to assist you. We can handle all your Portugal process service needs; no job is too small or too large!  For instructions on How To Serve Legal Papers in Portugal, Click Here!

Contact us for more information about our process-serving agency. We are ready to provide process service to all our clients globally from our offices in New York, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C.

"Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives"- Foster, William A


1. The first court charge, payable before filing, ranges from €102 (for claims up to €2,000) to €1,632 (for claims above €250,000).

2. Regulation (EC) 861/2007 of the European Parliament and the Council establishing a European minor claims procedure; and Regulation (EU) 2015/2421 of the European Parliament and the Council amending Regulation (EC) 861/2007 establishing a European minor claims procedure and Regulation (EC) 1896/2006 creating a European order for payment procedure.

3. Besides Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of So Tomé and Principe, and Timor Leste, Portugal is a member of the Judicial Network for Cooperation of the Community of the Portuguese-Speaking Countries.

4. If both parties to a dispute have EU citizenship and permanent residences, the Recast Brussels Regulation (1215/12) will govern the case's resolution.

5. Postal service is available to deliver documents according to Article 2(4)(d) - Languages that may be used to complete the standard form outlined in Annex I.

6. The Central Authority should be notified of all requests. The Portuguese Central Authority is  the Ministry of Justice Directorate-General of Justice Administration Division of International Judicial Cooperation 

Office Address: 

Av. D. Joo II, 1.08.01

 Edificio H, Piso 14, 

1990-097 Lisbon, Portugal 

7. Portugal has approved the following transmitting organizations:

  1. Local tribunals (Tribunais Judiciais de Comarca);
  2. Conservadores (record keepers)
  3. Legal advisors (Notários);
  4. Agents of execution (Agentes de Execuço); and
  5. Mandatários Judiciais, or legal representatives.

8. If service is made, the cost to hire an enforcement agent is €76.

If service is not made (because, for example, the person being served did not live at the supplied address or the address did not exist), the fee must be assessed at €50.50